Your editorial on November 20 stating that South Carolina has "bigger problems than controversial school library books" is quite true. Improving the quality of public education in this state, which annually ranks near the bottom nationally, will take more than removing some books on the hit list of Education Superintendent Ellen Weaver.
Your editorial asks Weaver to spend her time more productively. You are right. But you imply that Weaver wants to improve the public schools, and that is where you err.
Weaver came to the job having been president and CEO of the Palmetto Promise Institute. From this position she was a vocal champion of giving parents the financial support to move their children out of the public schools. The Legislature has bought this approach, and now thousands of parents will receive tax money to put their children into charter or private schools, thereby depriving the public schools of funds, students, and motivated parents.
Weaver won her election because she was backed by billionaire Jeff Yass, from Pennsylvania. Yass, a libertarian who made his money trading options on Wall Street, is also an opponent of public schools. He poured money into Weaver's campaign and rescued it after her weak showing in the primary, where she won only 23.3 percent of the vote. With Yass's money paying for a massive ad campaign, she prevailed in the run-off against Kathy Maness, a candidate who actually does believe in public education.
To assume that Weaver is now going to change her spots and become the champion of public education is to ignore how she won the job. She has already broken ties between her office and the association that represents school librarians across the state. Now she wants a state-sanctioned list of approved books. Don't be surprised if she argues next that public schools don't need librarians at all, and that the libraries themselves could be put to better use housing other activities. That has already happened in other states.
The only approach to take with Weaver is to oppose her whenever and however possible, until she can be voted out.